Advertisement

Britain's Hunt wants London Stock Exchange to become Europe's Nasdaq

54th WEF annual meeting in Davos

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) -British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday he wants the London Stock Exchange to become the Nasdaq of Europe, attracting tech companies to help create "the next Silicon Valley".

Britain is reforming its financial sector in a bid to remain globally competitive as UK tech companies like chip designer Arm Holdings choose to list in New York. London's financial sector has also been largely cut off from the European Union due to Brexit.

"I would say that the big opportunity that we have in front of us is to be the world's next Silicon Valley," Hunt told TheCityUK's annual dinner in London.

"We want the London Stock Exchange to become Europe's Nasdaq," he said, referring to the U.S. stock exchange that has become a global magnet for tech companies.

"I think we will get those companies listing here in due course," Hunt said.

Creating a Silicon Valley in Britain would be similar in impact to the "Big Bang" reforms in finance during the 1980s that helped London become a top financial centre, he said.

Such ambition is underpinned by Britain having the best universities and biggest financial sector outside the United States, Hunt said.

Just over a year ago Hunt proposed the "Edinburgh Reforms", a package of measures to update and ease financial rules now that a post-Brexit Britain no longer has to comply with EU laws, though the bloc has rolled out similar rule changes as well.

Lawmakers have said the impact of the Edinburgh Reforms so far has been a "damp squib" and have urged regulators to speed up their introduction.

"I think they're progressing pretty well," Hunt said.

But if Britain is to remain one of the most attractive countries in the world and become a "dynamo economy" for international investors, it must have the most competitive business taxes, he said.

"My priority is to bring down the tax burden," Hunt said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar and Jonathan Oatis)